Top 10 Albums of 2017

There’s never really a bad year for music.  There are always going to be great albums from popstars like Lorde or underground masterpieces like Mount Eerie’s new album.  When it comes to deciding a personal top ten, it becomes a mix of what releases seemed most significant and what I returned to the most.  Where there were excellent albums from Kendrick, Japandroids, and Kesha, these were the albums that defined my year.  Also, shoutout to Run the Jewels.  RTJ 3 would’ve made the list, but they leaked it Christmas Day 2016, so too bad.

 

  1.  The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die-Always Foreign

TWIABP continue to carry the torch they helped ignite in the emo revival.  Always Foreign sees the band inching forward where Harmlessness left off.  It’s the band’s most politically-minded release-to-date.  “Marine Tigers” and “Fuzz Minor” are scathing social commentaries delivered by an impassioned David F. Bello.  The band also doesn’t shy away from creating indie-rock with a sense of grandeur, as “Infinite Steve” and “Faker” see the band embracing post-rock the size of which the band hasn’t grown to before.  With the songs “The Future” and “Dillon and Her Son,” TWIABP don’t shy away from Blink-182 style pop-punk, making this the most diverse set of songs TWIABP have ever released.

Continue reading

Top 10 Podcasts from 2017

It almost feels like every day someone tells me that they want to start listening to podcasts, and since it’s become a regular medium, you can find podcasts about literally anything.  I’ve listened to podcasts about everything from tech to crying.  There really is a podcast for everyone, whether you need information, a laugh, or an emotional reaction.  Here are some of the best new podcasts and veterans that have kept up the good work:

 

  1. Swipe Out

Alix McAlpine’s podcast is simple enough on the surface, and it’s certainly not the first dating podcast.  The premise is Alix goes on first dates, then discusses them with her friend, while creating a list of qualities she’d like her ideal partner to have.  Occasionally, it’s funny, but McAlpine is doing more than just gossiping about her dates.  She’s really exploring what it’s like navigating the dating world, as a millennial, with dating apps, and as a young adult.  It’s a mostly transparent look into the dating world, and it provides so much insight to those single among us.

Standout episode: Connor/Slim Thicc Continue reading

2017 Albums of the Year: Honorable Mentions

Earlier this year, I made an effort to keep track of every album (regardless of release date) I listened to in 2017.  I gave up around May, but maybe I’ll try again for 2018.  By the time I called it quits, I’d listened to 122 albums, and upon reviewing the list, I did see a bunch of albums I did really enjoy but forgot about.  My best-of list will feature my top picks of albums that stuck with me from the time they came out until now, but these honorable mentions were also pretty great albums that I feel deserve some recognition.  In no particular order, some of the other great albums from 2017 are:

Lil Peep-Come Over When You’re Sober (Part One)

The morning I found out about Lil Peep’s death was strange.  I’d liked some of his songs, but his music hadn’t really grabbed and held me like it had for others.  I still felt sad, mainly just seeing someone younger than me die of an overdose.  I went back and listened to this album again that day, and I was surprised by how much it resonated with me.  Lil Peep is the sort of artist I wish I had when I was fourteen, because it’s relatable and catchy.  It really makes me upset that I wish I could’ve seen what else he could’ve done, not just for music, but for young sad kids that I do see a lot of myself in.

Black Kids-Rookie

Black Kids’ first album in nine years was a lovely return to form.  It’s an easily danceable indie-rock record with a bunch of quotable lines.  “Iffy” and “Obligatory Drugs” are perfect examples of how Black Kids maintain the same energy that could’ve left them an indie one-hit-wonder.  Continue reading

The Front Bottoms-Terminal 5, NY-11/25/17

A post shared by Jimmy Crowley (@jcrowley68) on

Pop-punk isn’t really the type of scene that bands really grow into large acts in; emo is much more unlikely.  Still, against all odds, The Front Bottoms have reared their heads out of a niche corner in an underground scene and become full-fledged rockstars.  Seeing them headline Terminal 5, the largest venue the band has ever headlined, it was hard not to get teary-eyed with pride. Continue reading

Strung Out, But Experienced:The Hold Steady-Brooklyn Bowl, 12/2/17

hold-steady-massive-nights

The best bands are never satiated by just playing their old music, but the best of the best also really enjoy playing their old songs alongside new ones.  This past weekend at Brooklyn Bowl, The Hold Steady’s “Massive Nights” showed that Craig Finn and company are amongst the best of the best.  Where last year’s shows were strictly a birthday celebration for Boys and Girls in America, these shows were a little more rounded, and the band also had a pair of new songs to feed to a rabid fanbase.  Frank Turner was just the cherry to top it off. Continue reading

Charles Manson-Lie (The Love and Terror Cult)

The human fascination with death and murder takes us all down strange rabbit holes.  It’s hard for some people to resist watching Law & Order, some of us have libraries with Helter Skelter or Zodiac, and some of us spend most of our work day listening to murder podcasts.  With a demographic that can sometimes skew down the darker path of life, it’s not difficult to see an audience for Charles Manson’s Lie album.  Manson’s relationship with music is one of the largest parts of his legacy that will surely be discussed for years to come. Continue reading

Spit Some Blood at the Camera: the Mountain Goats-Brooklyn Steel, NY 11/12/17

I never expected to ever hear John Darnielle play a guitar solo, and perhaps, Darnielle isn’t the type of frontman that should take a solo.  Still, when there’s an excellent show with powerful emotions all around, sometimes you just need to take a solo, and your audience will eat it up with pleasure.  The Mountain Goats’ Brooklyn Steel show on Sunday night was a mutually cathartic experience with occasional fist-pounding admiration and some well-earned John Darnielle shredding. Continue reading

Jetty Bones-Old Women

I hate to make the easy comparison, but this sounds like early Paramore in the best possible way.  The band’s sole consistent member and frontwoman Kelc Galluzzo commands a stage and has a voice that rivals Hayley Williams’.  While 2017 has been a great year for female-fronted bands, most tend to lean towards a punkier or more emo sound, and Jetty Bones are unafraid to embrace a sense of mid-2000’s pop-punk.  The pop embrace is in full effect on the band’s second EP, Old Women. Continue reading

Slaughter Beach, Dog-Birdie

It’s not really shocking to find that Jake Ewald is a massive fan of the Mountain Goats and The Weakerthans.  His Modern Baseball songs were always incredibly descriptive and made mundane events seem much more fascinating with his lyrics.  It’s unsurprising that his second album from his Slaughter Beach, Dog outfit bares a strong resemblance to The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson’s recent solo effort.  Birdie is also much more of a jangle-pop effort than even last year’s WelcomeBirdie seems to be truer to Ewald’s life than the first Slaughter Beach, Dog album in a too sweet for its own good way. Continue reading

Julien Baker-Turn Out the Lights

There aren’t that many artists that can kick you in the shins emotionally quite the same way that Julien Baker does on her sophomore album Turn Out the Lights.  That is to say that these are songs that can make you cry the first time you hear them.  If you’re having a tough time in this thing called life, bring a box of tissues to your drunk/hungover/lonesome listening party of this album.  From the door creak that opens the album to the final fading notes on the piano, Baker will take you through pain, numbness, uplift, and catharsis. Continue reading